Cost-effective employee benefits - hiring on a budget

It is a common problem, particularly in the current economic climate. You want to grow your business, and you need new employees to help you do that. But you don’t think you have the cash you need to attract top-flight talent. So what do you do?

Luckily, the headline salary is not necessarily the be all and end all when it comes to job negotiations. Potential employees are increasingly looking at the benefits package on offer before making a decision. This provides firms with an opportunity to punch above their weight. By offering a great benefits package you can help to attract the employees you need, on a budget.

Non-medical insurance benefits

Medical insurance is the centrepiece of many firms’ benefit offering. But this can be expensive, particularly if yours is a small workforce.

Thankfully, many employees place significant value in non-medical insurance benefits. These often include life insurance or disability insurance. Although these will obviously be used less frequently than a conventional medical policy, many employees report that they help to foster a sense of loyalty and faith in a company. The idea that you are willing to look after your employees in the long term can help to boost the value of these benefits far beyond their actual cost.

Flexible working

As a small business owner with a limited budget, you need to play to your strengths. Luckily, small firms are particularly well suited to offer flexible working arrangements – and these are often very highly valued by employees.

Flexible working benefits might operate in a number of different ways. For example, you might choose to offer employees the opportunity to start and finish the working day at a time of their choosing, perhaps within certain limits. Alternatively, you might give employees a number of flexible days off, which they could take in addition to their regular holiday.

It is vitally important that the terms of your flexible working arrangements are clearly set out, and that they are understood by all employees. This will help to ensure that the system runs smoothly, and that misunderstandings are avoided.

Cycle to Work scheme

The Cycle to Work scheme is becoming increasingly popular amongst both businesses and employees. Many parts of the UK are seeing something of a ‘cycling revolution’, and it seems fair to say that Cycle to Work is at least partially responsible for this.

The scheme provides bikes to employees tax free, while offering significant savings on new bike purchases. Employers, on the other hand, enjoy a cost-effective, popular benefit that has the added bonus of improving the health of your workforce.

The Cycle to Work scheme operators take on a significant proportion of the administrative burden associated with the benefit. You will also be able to recoup the value of any bike purchase within the first year. Finally, the scheme has been given the green light by HM Revenue and Customs – meaning that you will avoid the potential for a tax investigation.

Visiting experts

Many employees value hands-on advice and expertise. You might therefore consider inviting independent experts in to run seminars or workshops with your staff.

An increasing number of businesses are inviting independent financial advisors (IFAs) to offer private advice to employees. This is particularly relevant in today’s turbulent times, in which many individuals are concerned about safeguarding their finances.

Many IFAs are willing to offer initial consultations for free. Employees can then arrange follow-up appointments at their own expense if they so choose.

Educate your employees

Finally, it is important to note that employees will not value the benefits they have unless they know exactly what they are. All too often, benefits are hidden away in the back of an employee handbook – or simply not discussed at all. If you want your employees to appreciate the benefits that are on offer (and that is, after all, a major part of the impetus for providing them in the first place) it is vital that you explain exactly what they have.

If you are using benefits as a recruitment tool, you should make sure that they are listed in your job ads. You should also outline them during the negotiation process with a potential new employee. Just as importantly, you should make sure that existing employees know what is on offer. It is often easiest to do this face to face, so consider arranging a meeting with your workforce for this purpose.

Employee benefits are an increasingly important aspect of any job negotiation. By developing a great benefits package you can help to attract the talent you need.